Tag Archives: european cakes

A very Danish coffee time in South Jutland


by Bronte Aurell

I have family in the southern part of Jutland (the part of Denmark that’s connected to continental Europe),  and one of the most vivid memories of my childhood is hearing of the elaborate gatherings known as ‘Sønderjysk Kaffebord’ – literally, a ‘Southern Jutland coffee table’.

Danes love meeting up for coffee and cake of course, but in the south of Jutland, they take it to the extreme. There, a normal coffee time features  seven types of soft cake, and seven kinds of biscuits. Anything less just won’t do.

Such gatherings first became popular in the mid-1800s, when indoor ovens became increasingly commonplace (communal ovens were the norm in  villages and on farms). As home baking became easier, the availability of recipe books led to people experimenting more, and the variety of coffee-time goodies increased accordingly.

While extreme rationing during the First World War meant that southern Jutland’s coffee times were a more austere affair, they took on a new significance during the Nazi occupation of Denmark in the Second World War. The occupiers outlawed public meetings, but welcoming guests for (ersatz) coffee in the home was permitted. So what better way to discuss resistance than doing it while stuffing your face full of delicious baking at the same time?

Of course, there was also an element of out-doing the neighbours. At communal coffee times at a village hall, each wife would bring her cake. But maybe Gerda would bring two different cakes, while Katrine down the road might attempt to outdo her with four types of biscuits. A bake-off gone nuts.

These days,  a typical Southern Jutland coffee table is served in hotels and restaurants, and also sometimes at weddings, christenings and funerals. In fact, the other day I called my dad, who was on his way to Sønderborg with my uncle. He told me that a distant relative had sadly passed away, and they were attending the funeral. I offered my condolences – to which I heard my uncle chirpily reply in the background : “Ah, but there’s a full coffee table afterwards!”.

How to do it – the original way

Present seven types of soft cakes and seven types of biscuits or hard cakes.

People gathered around the table to take one portion or slice of EACH soft cake on your plate AT THE SAME TIME. Yes, really.  You don’t have to do that any more, but that is the tradition. The reasoning was that if you got full up and hadn’t yet tasted Helle’s delicious strieftorte, it just would not do.

How to serve?

Start with the soft cakes, followed by the hard cakes. Always. Never the other way round.

There is a huge list to choose from – some that probably wouldn’t appeal to our pallets these days. The popular ones will always be layer cakes of all shapes and sizes, from strawberry with crème pâtisserie, to ones made with berries from the garden. You will probably always have someone attempting a rye bread layer cake (it’s an interesting thing). Kartoffelkage  is another good one – literally ‘potato cake’, but it has nothing to do with potatoes. And then are are tarts, kringles – and so it goes on….

The hard items include fried wheat biscuits known as ‘klejner’, as well as the more familiar  butter cookies.

My very favourite kaffebord item is a  biscuit called ‘Ingenting’ which literally means ‘nothing’.

Ingentings are the last biscuit served. A host would ask a guest what more they could eat, to which they would answer ‘ingenting’. And so the guest  be offered precisely that – one of these deliciously light, soft meringue biscuits. Because there is always room for nothing.


How to make Nothing.

Makes around 30 biscuits

Author: Bronte Aurell
  • The biscuit:
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 125g butter
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • Lemon zest
  • The topping:
  • 2 egg whites
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 large tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Optional: 3 tbsp finely chopped almonds
  1. Method:
  2. In a food processor blitz the ingredients for the biscuits (if you don’t have a processor, crumble the cold butter into the flour, then incorporate the rest of the ingredients). Do not work the dough too much. When it is smooth, pop it in a plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set.
  3. Meanwhile, make the meringue topping. Whisk the egg whites with a teeny pinch of salt. Slowly add the sugar and vanilla sugar, bit by bit, and whisk on high speed until you have a shiny, glossy, firm mixture that forms sharp peaks. This will take quite a while. At the end, add the vinegar and – if using – the chopped almonds.
  4. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to the same height as a digestive biscuit. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits and place on a baking tray. Repeat until all dough has been used.
  5. Either spoon out or use a piping bag to get the meringue mixture on to each biscuit. I like quite a thick layer (so the meringue stays gooey in the middle), but if you prefer less, this also works.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven at 150 degrees for around 15 minutes until the base is cooked. I usually leave mine in the over with the door open for a further fifteen minutes,but this is optional.
  7. Variations: add colouring, different flavours and experiment. This really is a lovely light treat and worth the effort.


Prinsesstarta (Princess Torte)

September 5, 2014 | 2 Comments

Prinsesstarta (Princess Cake) is the most famous cake in Sweden. The Swedes love it so much, there is even a Prinsesstarta week.

Traditionally a celebration cake, Prinsesstårta  is a layer cake consisting of alternating layers of airy sponge, raspberry or strawberry jam, patisserie cream, and a thick layer of whipped cream. This is topped with green marzipan, sprinkled with powdered sugar with a pink marzipan rose on top. If it’s your birthday, you get to eat the rose. It’s the law.

This recipe is easy to follow and it’s definitely worth trying. Even if you don’t have time to make this yummy cake from scratch you can still impress people with our cheat’s version (see the bottom of the page). It is quick, simple, but oh so delicious.


Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)
  • 75g raspberry jam
  • [b]For the vanilla patisserie cream[/b]
  • NOTE: Needs to be cooled before using in the cake or the cream will split.
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 500ml whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 45g corn flour
  • [b]For the cake layers[/b]
  • 5 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla sugar
  • [b]For the Whipped Cream[/b]
  • 700ml whipping cream
  • 2tbs icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla sugar
  • [b]To garnish:[/b]
  • [url href=”http://www.scandikitchen.co.uk/product/odense-fardigt-marsipanlock-200g/”]1 marzipan lid[/url] or 300g marzipan and green food coloring
  • 1 tsp icing sugar
  • [b]Marzipan Rose[/b]
  • 40 g marzipan
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  • 1 drop green food coloring
  1. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds and add to a saucepan with the milk. Bring to the boil. Take care not to burn and turn off heat as soon as boiling point is reached.
  2. Whisk egg yolk and sugar until it goes almost white, then turn off the whisk and add the corn flour. Turn the whisk back on medium and slowly add the hot milk to the bowl, whisking continuously.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring back to the boil and cook for 1 minute to thicken. Turn off, sieve the mixture into a bowl, cling film and cool down completely in the fridge before using.
  4. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  5. Trace 3 identical circles onto baking paper – approximately 20-22 cm diameter. Place baking paper onto flat baking trays.
  6. Whisk egg and sugar until white and fluffy. The key here, is to whisk for a long time to incorporate as much air as possible as there are not raising agents in the mixture.
  7. Sift flour and vanilla sugar into the egg mixture and fold, very carefully, until completely incorporated. Preserve as much air as possible, so fold carefully but thoroughly.
  8. Carefully divide the batter between the three circles and ensure batter fills the circles all the way around, neatly.
  9. Bake in the oven until just golden brown and done – this will depend on your oven, but 5-6 minutes is usually fine.
  10. Remove from and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack. Very carefully remove the baking paper – if it sticks, wet the back of the paper a little bit and it should come off with more ease.
  11. On high speed, whisk all ingredients for the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. The cream needs to be quite firm to hold when decorating the cake – but take care not to over whip.
  12. Divide the cream into two equal portions. Fold one half of the whipped cream together with the cold vanilla patisserie cream until completely incorporated (The other half is used to decorate the final cake).
  13. Place the first layer cake on the plate you wish to serve on. Spread a nice layer of raspberry jam, follow by a 1cm thick layer of the patisserie cream / whipped cream mixture. Add another cake layer and repeat over again and then add the final cake layer on top (You may have a bit of excess custard cream left).
  14. On the top sponge layer, carefully add the whipped cream in a “dome” shape – you will need to use a spatula here to get it quite smooth all over. You’re looking for around 3-4 cm “top” on the cake. Then carefully place the marzipan lid on top and over the edge of the cake, making sure the sides are completely covered and smooth.
  15. Garnish:
  16. Add the marzipan lid.
  17. If you make your own marzipan lid, add the food colouring to the marzipan and roll it out into a round plate which you then put on the cake.
  18. Sift powdered sugar on top.
  19. Use a piping nozzle and any leftover whipped cream to pipe rosettes of cream around the edge to hide the bottom of the marzipan and any folds.
  20. To make a rose: add few drops of food colouring to the marzipan – add icing sugar if it gets too sticky. Roll out a 1 mm thick piece, 2 cm wide and around 10 cm long. Roll it up loosely, nip the bottom together, spread the leaves a bit and voila: A marzipan rose to the top of your cake
  21. This cake greatly improves after a few hours in the fridge so all the flavours are soaked into the cake layers.


Princesstarta – Cheat’s version
Author: Bronte Aurell
  • 1 pack [url href=”http://www.scandikitchen.co.uk/?product=karen-volf-lagkagebunde-3-pack-2″]lagekage bunde [/url]
  • 1 pack [url href=”http://www.scandikitchen.co.uk/product/maizena-kagecreme-vanilje-180g/”]kagecreme[/url] (crème patisserie)
  • 1 pack [url href=”http://www.scandikitchen.co.uk/product/odense-fardigt-marsipanlock-200g/”]Odense green marzipan lid [/url]
  • 1 Tillmanns raspberry jam
  • 700 ml whipping cream
  • 100 grams icing sugar
  • Some marzipan to colour for a red flower
  • Few drops of red food colouring
  1. Whip the cream together with a few table spoons of icing sugar. Whip it to hard peaks (not soft)
  2. Make the Creme patisserie: 1 sachet of kagecreme powder mixed with 500ml whole milk. Whisk well and chill for 15 minutes in fridge before using.
  3. To assemble the cake:
  4. Remove packaging from sponge cake layers. On your chosen tray, add first layer of sponge. Add on top a thin layer of raspberry jam, then add half the crème patisserie evenly all over. Add sponge layer and repeat. Add top lid.
  5. On the top sponge layer, carefully add the whipped cream in a “dome” shape – you will need to use a spatula here to get it quite smooth all over. You’re looking for around 3-4 cm “top” on the cake.
  6. Once you are happy with the whipped cream, add the green lid. This is the tricky bit. Carefully unwrap the lid and line it up to go on the cake. You only have one shot at this as it is hard to move. Once placed, carefully press the sides down around the cake. Some cream may seep out, so use a spoon to wipe any excess so the lid will fit snugly
  7. Use a piping nozzle and any leftover whipped cream to pipe rosettes of cream around the edge to hide the bottom of the marzipan and any folds.
  8. To make a rose: add few drops of food colouring to the marzipan – add icing sugar if it gets too sticky. Roll out a 1 mm thick piece, 2 cm wide and around 10 cm long. Roll it up loosely, nip the bottom together, spread the leaves a bit and voila: A marzipan rose to the top of your cake